Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Arirang gets it ari-wrong on the Japanese rocket

Although I used to work at Arirang back in the day (and went through the grueling "public sector employee" hiring process to get there), I was not a fan of some of their policies that stemmed from their efforts to have a tightly controlled propaganda machine and message.

Thus, it's not all that surprising to me that things like this end up happening, in regards to the launch of a Korean satellite from a Japanese rocket:
It was a great opportunity to show how Japan and Korea can work together. However, the Korean media’s portrayal of the launch has annoyed some Japanese netizens. It seems that Korea’s infamous anti-Japanese sentiment has once again reared its ugly head.

A TV report from South Korea’s Arirang TV proudly states, “it is now 20 years since Korea put its first satellite into orbit, and now, Korea’s third multipurpose satellite, Arirang-3, is ready for launch. ” Their computer animated portrayal of the launch has removed the Japanese flag and “NIPPON” letters from the rocket:
This is just plain childish and petty. Arirang TV owes its viewers — and perhaps the country of Japan — an apology. I can't put it any plainer than that. If they somehow weren't responsible for the graphic, they are still responsible for putting it on the air without "fact-checking" the video.

The Japanese flag and the word "Nippon"
are missing, as is the kanji for Mitsubishi.

Still, I think Japan Probe goes a bit too far with its analysis of the issue. The expressly propaganda-oriented Arirang TV, in Japan Probe's words, morphs into "the Korean media":
It was a great opportunity to show how Japan and Korea can work together. However, the Korean media’s portrayal of the launch has annoyed some Japanese netizens. It seems that Korea’s infamous anti-Japanese sentiment has once again reared its ugly head.
Unless this graphic also showed up in other Korean news outlets (and it may have), then the phrase "the Korean media's portrayal" is distorting the issue.

I also take issue with the characterization of "Korea's infamous anti-Japanese sentiment" or its "ugly head." When Japan Probe can't be bothered to report on something like this...
Two delegations of Japanese officials visited Palisades Park, N.J., this month with a request that took local administrators by surprise: The Japanese wanted a small monument removed from a public park.

The monument, a brass plaque on a block of stone, was dedicated in 2010 to the memory of so-called comfort women, tens of thousands of women and girls, many Korean, who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II.

But the Japanese lobbying to remove the monument seems to have backfired — and deepened animosity between Japan and South Korea over the issue of comfort women, a longstanding irritant in their relations.
... then they probably shouldn't be lecturing Korea or Koreans on how to react in the face of Japan's six-decade-long fu¢k-up when it comes to dealing with its atrocious past.

Okay. That's another post for another time, but you get the idea: South Koreans wanting satisfaction and closure on recent historical issues (some of the victims and perpetrators of which are still alive) that many in the Japanese government would rather pretend didn't happen does not mean South Korea is the one with the "infamous" nationalist sentiment again "rearing its ugly head." That distinction goes to the history whitewashing descendants of the imperial murderers. But that's another post for another time.

The other characterization Japan Probe makes...
Like the other programs on Arirang TV, it is meant to advertise the greatness of Korea to English-speaking viewers. Having the Arirang-3 launched into space on a Japanese-looking rocket might interfere with the message of the program. ...

Having taken the trouble to copy so many other details of the rocket, it seems highly unlikely that Arirang TV simply forgot to include the Japanese markings. This was probably part of a conscious effort to make viewers think that Korea is not relying on Japanese technology.
... also misses the mark. That the Korean satellite rode into space on a Japanese rocket was repeated over and over and over again in the Korean media, including on the very Arirang program with the offending graphic. While it seems the CG department at Arirang or their outsourcing partners didn't wish to highlight the Japanese flag or country name (i.e., Nippon) the programs themselves are making no effort to hide the crucial Japanese role.

Anyway, this was very foolish on Arirang's part. Rabid right-wing Japanese netizens often go to town on imagined insults to Japan by Korean celebrities, the government, or tourists to Japan, but this is a case where their ire is apt. Do something about it, Arirang. (And I'll apologize for the bad pun in the title.)



  1. In my opinion hiding the word "nippon" from the rocket did great to improve japans image in Korea, after all koreans knew it was a japanese rocket anyway, but that word just brings bad feelings to koreans so hiding that word avoided conflicting sentiments in koreans and helped them to focus on the good side of korean relationship with Japan.

    1. You make a very good point the removal of "Nippon" from the graphic. Whether modern-day Japanese like it or not, they should be aware that for many people, the word "Nippon" evokes images of WWII and Japan's imperial past (including Korea's brutal colonial era).

      However, the Arirang computer graphics also removed the Japanese flag. Here I see no real justification, especially when it was clear from the news that it was also Japan's efforts to move into the space launch that was a news story here.

      Removing "Nippon" but leaving the Japanese flag would have been much more understandable, but that's not what happened. More than ever, I think Arirang deserves some harsh criticism over this. This is a symptom of its terrible business model, one that is a total FAIL when it comes to enhancing Korea's image.

  2. Yikes...Im scheduled for an interview with ArirangTV tomorrow and just came across this blog last minute. Would you mind if I asked you about what it was like working there?

    1. Sorry, didn't see this until just now. Feel free to email me and I'll see what I can do. But I have been in Hawaii for over five years now, so I'm a little rusty on what's what with Arirang.


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